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Confessions of Marie Antoinette: A Novel by Juliet Grey: A Book Review

Confessions of Marie Antoinette: A Novel
Author: Juliet Grey
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: September 24th, 2013
Pages: 464
Source: NetGalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: A novel for fans of Philippa Gregory and Michelle Moran, Confessions of Marie Antoinette blends rich historical detail with searing drama, bringing to life the first years of the French Revolution and the final days of the legendary French queen.

     Versailles, 1789. As the burgeoning rebellion reaches the palace gates, Marie Antoinette finds her privileged and peaceful life swiftly upended by violence. Once her loyal subjects, the people of France now seek to overthrow the crown, placing the heirs of the Bourbon dynasty in mortal peril.


     Displaced to the Tuileries Palace in Paris, the royal family is propelled into the heart of the Revolution. There, despite a few staunch allies, they are surrounded by cunning spies and vicious enemies. Yet despite the political and personal threats against her, Marie Antoinette remains, above all, a devoted wife and mother, standing steadfastly by her husband, Louis XVI, and protecting their young son and daughter. And though the queen secretly attempts to arrange her family’s rescue from the clutches of the rebels, she finds that they can neither outrun the dangers encircling them nor escape their shocking fate.

      My Review: This is the final novel in Juliet Grey’s Marie Antoinette trilogy. The novel chronicles the last years of Marie Antoinette, beginning with the market women's march and revolt in Versailles to her execution by Madame Guillotine. The story tells of how Marie Antoinette manages to keeps her dignity and courage as her enemies try to break her spirit by separating her from all she holds dear. Yet, the story not only tells a tragedy about the fate of Marie Antoinette, but by a nation  that is being torn and divided as the bloody Revolution begins to attack its own people.

     The story is mostly narrated by Marie Antoinette herself as she tells us her fears, her emotions, and dreams as she becomes imprisoned by her own people. The narration is also written in third person from Louis Chabry, a revolutionary. This character’s narration balances and is necessary to the story for the scenes that Marie Antoinette is not present in. We get to see what the French Revolution was like to an average woman living at that time.


     After the revolt at Versailles, Marie Antoinette and her husband are forced to go to Paris, where they are imprisoned at the Tuileries. They try to conform to being a constitutional monarchy until their French citizens threaten the royal family’s life. They decide that they must flee to the frontier for safety, but their plan fails. The people feel that their king has betrayed them. Eventually they lose their throne and are forced to live in a drastic prison so that no one can ever attempt a plot to save the royal family.


     During Marie Antoinette’s imprisonment, her physical appearance and her character change drastically. She has lost her beauty. And although she is in her thirties, her hair is white, and she looks like an old woman. She is no longer the carefree woman in the previous novels. Instead, she is serious and sad. In the previous novels, Marie Antoinette was not interested in politics, and she had no political influence in her husband’s reign. During her imprisonment, Marie Antoinette takes an interest in politics, and she becomes a strong interest in her husband’s affairs. She writes in crypt to other monarchs to ask for aid to save the royal family. Marie Antoinette becomes a strong, brave, and determined woman who fights for her family’s freedom. In this novel, Marie Antoinette is shown as a faithful wife and mother, who only wishes to be with her family. But the Revolutionaries want nothing than to see her suffer. They take away her friends, and kill her husband. But what really breaks her is that they take her son away from her, and there is nothing she can do as she is forced to listen to her son being tortured in the room directly below where she is imprisoned.


     Overall, this novel is about sacrifice, friendship, loyalty, and family. It is about one woman’s fight to protect her family when they are being attacked. Marie Antoinette is portrayed as a mother and a wife. This novel is an excellent conclusion to the Marie Antoinette trilogy. The story is powerful, and its message is thought-provoking. I would recommend it to people who are interested in historical fiction and Marie-Antoinette.


Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


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